How’d they do that? ∙
He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. – Psalms 18:33
Psalms 119:133 When a man’s conduct pleases him, the Lord enables him to go through life with confidence (FRCL).
4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
5 And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
6 But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
7 What sorrow awaits the world, because of its stumbling blocks which tempt people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.
North American mountain goats can ascend nearly vertical cliffs. It is “possibly the best and most complete mountaineer that ever existed on any continent” (Douglas Chadwick). “Mountain goats can powerfully scale up the most precipitous slopes with the grace of hooved ballerinas” (Erica Tennenhouse). Their knack for verticality is unsurpassed.
Their bodies were intelligently designed to be machines built to climb. Their agility and traction allow them to race upslope gaining 75 feet of altitude in 60 seconds. They were enabled to ascend almost invisible ledges on cliffs due to their highly specialized hooves. Their hooves have a hard outer case that allows them to dig into tiny ledge surfaces. The bottoms have soft pads which mold to contours in the mountain’s surface much like modern climbing shoes. Their slender bodies give them the ability to maintain balance on very narrow almost invisible protrusions (thescienceexplorer.com).
Psalms 18:33 He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
The Hebrew word translated deer or hind is ayyalah. The term ayyalah, used only 8 times in the Old Testament. It refers to a species of deer known throughout the ancient Near East. Before the modern system of animal kingdom classification developed by Linnaeus in the 1700s, people grouped animals by function. Thus surefooted, swift animals such as sheep, goats, ibex, deer, and gazelles were grouped together.
Of course, in ancient Israel, they never saw a North American mountain goat, the apex nimble, surefooted climber of cliffs and rocks. If they had the Scriptures would refer to a North American mountain goat instead of a deer or hind.
The animal pictured in the Old Testament became proverbial for nimble agility. Much like today in modern colloquial English, we would say “fast as lightning.”
2 Samuel 22:34 He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
What would be the opposite of surefootedness, perhaps bumbling, stumbling clumsiness?
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father delights in each child of the King. He wants us to walk triumphal adequacy.
Father, I am so given to stumbling in my walk with You. Keep steady my steps according to your word, so I will not be overcome by evil (Psalms 119:133).
Lamentably, the world is filled with all kinds of natural stumbling blocks. Stumbling blocks are often circumstances that impede progress or cause hesitation. A stumbling block is an obstacle or impediment, a hindrance. They are often physical obstructions that increase the likelihood of tripping and falling such as small boulders or rocks, fallen trees, etc. However, not all stumbling blocks are physical. A stumbling block can be any challenge or hindrance that prevents something from being accomplished. Stumbling blocks often hinder our walk with the Father.
As children of the King, we are not immune to stumbling blocks. Without the Father’s help, even the most surefooted of us can trip and fall.
32 God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.
33 He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
Safety is not the absence of danger, but the presence of the Father. The Father can provide strength and safety.
Habakkuk 3:19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
How do we become surefooted as we walk through the trials, challenges, and vicissitudes of life? By learning to live in yielded intimacy with the Father through Lord Jesus Christ. He supernaturally provides insight and discernment. As a result, we develop the skill to move and walk as sure-footed deer or mountain goats that we might tread every step circumspectly. When we live in the presence of the Father, we are secure. Our path and our steps, big or small are guided by Him. Although we trip and fall, we are never abandoned. He will always come to our aid. The Father always holds our hand. He prevents us from being totally and completely devastated.
23 The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.
But there’s more. Often even children of the King create stumbling blocks for others.
As the Father’s children grow in strength and become more surefooted, they should endeavor to protect the vulnerable and keep them from stumbling. The Father provides guidelines for the right attitudes that support wise living. Vulnerable people are to be protected, and not taken advantage of.
Leviticus 19:14 You must not curse a deaf person or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person. You must fear your God; I am the LORD.
Individuals with physical limitations are recognized by the Father as those whose physical circumstances should be respected rather than depreciated and taken advantage of. The same is true of the young and the innocent.
Matthew 18:6 But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
The Father takes these things very personally. He is by nature a good and loving shepherd, a helper of the helpless, and an avenger of wrong.
The Father sets the ideal standard for children of the King. As Lawgiver, He sets limits on our freedom. Causing harm to vulnerable people is iniquity. Iniquity is an action that is wrong in and of itself. In colloquial English, we might say, “it ain’t right.” When our consciences are not seared, iniquity tugs at our sense of right and wrong.
Adeptly dealt with, stumbling blocks can become steppingstones. Others will be left saying, “How’d they do that?”